BEEVILLE — The Pleasanton Eagles nearly wiped away a seemingly-steep 15-0 deficit, only to fall 37-26 to the no. 10-ranked and unbeaten Beeville Jones Trojans on Friday night.
“I’m proud of my guys, I’m proud of my coaches, the work they put in. That’s a 9-0 team coming in and we stood toe-to-toe with them,” head coach Stephen Liska said. “That’s a great ballclub. I’ve got a lot of respect for coach [Chris] Soza.”
After a 15-yard touchdown run by Beeville’s Jalen Spicer, a 7-yard pass from Seth Gomez to Gabriel Carranco and a subsequent two-point conversion on their first two possessions, the Trojans appeared to have full control of the game.
They had forced the Eagles into a pair of three-and-outs on their opening two drives.
But the Eagles flipped the script on the ensuing drive. The Eagles went on a 12-play, 78-yard drive to pull within 15-7 after Toby Gardner’s 3-yard touchdown run.
They still needed to stop Beeville’s dominant offense to have a chance, though.
After a delay of game and a dead ball personal foul, Beeville was behind the chains and facing 2nd-and-30. Pleasanton eventually got their stop and great field position at their on 48-yard line.
They needed another big stop after stalling at their 48. On 4th-and-21, the Trojans rolled the dice and went for it. Gomez heaved the ball incomplete in his own territory with nobody near the ball. He was called for intentional grounding and the Eagles took over at the Trojans’ 44.
The turnover-on-downs eventually resulted in a 5-yard touchdown pass from senior Nathaniel Acevedo to Dalton Hobbs to cap off an 8-play drive and conclude the scoring in the half.
All the momentum felt like it was on the Pleasanton sideline.
“We knew we were going to be able to make plays and stop them. The problem was getting stops and we got those stops early,” Liska said. “Early on, it was 14, 15 to nothing and we come back and get after them. I’m proud of my kids and my coaches, great calls. We could’ve tucked tail and ran. Like you said, that’s the no. 10 team in the state. Our kids battled and never gave up.”
However, the Eagles couldn’t manage to get off the ropes and on the attack in the heavyweight bout, rather than playing from behind like they had all game.
The two teams each scored two touchdowns in the third quarter and Acevedo was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in a safety and a 30-26 deficit entering the final quarter. The Eagles had a missed extra point and a failed two-point conversion following touchdown passes to Alonzo Duran and Nathan Bosquez in the third quarter.
Gomez eventually put the final dagger into Pleasanton’s upset bid with a 14-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
But the game allowed the Eagles to get more creative offensively with the likes of Duran, Bosquez and Gardner finding ways to spread the field. The trio accounted for 204 yards of total offense and three touchdowns, including a team-high 120 receiving yards by Bosquez.
“We saw them double-teaming Dalton. That opened opportunities for a lot of different receivers for us, especially Nathan since he was 1-on-1,” Acevedo said. “We had a lot of confidence in everybody today.”
That led to star receiver Dalton Hobbs eventually getting open and productive again. Hobbs hauled in seven passes for 103 yards and a score after being limited to 95 yards in the previous two games combined.
“Our offensive coaches, they were great,” Hobbs said. “They work hard all week. I mean Sundays, they’re in there ’til 4 or 5 o’ clock. They don’t have an off day. We worked all week on coverages and finding open spot in the field and fighting our way through it.”
Acevedo was 16-of-40 passing for 286 yards and four touchdowns against a pair of interceptions on the night.
Now, the playoffs come early for the Eagles (6-3, 0-3), as they’ll welcome La Vernia (4-5, 0-3) to town on Nov. 8. The storyline is simple: win, and you’re in the playoffs. An excited and proud coach Liska conveyed that to his team Friday night.
“Coach [Chris] Taber and La Vernia, they’re La Vernia. They’re going to be ready to go. And I promise you, our kids are going to be ready to go,” Liska said. “We’ll be ready at 7:30 p.m. next Friday night, in Pleasanton, Eagle Stadium, on the goose grass under the lights.”